Into the Metaverse: MIMA Event Recap
Earlier this month, we attended a Virtual Reality & Metaverse Discovery Workshop hosted by the Midwest Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) at REM5 STUDIOS to learn about the cutting edge use cases of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), 360 video and the metaverse and to try these technologies out for ourselves. We got some great insights and learned a lot about how we can apply these technologies for the benefit of our partners. Below is a brief recap of the event and some of the things we learned about how the metaverse works, why VR and AR are great investments for brands and how these tools can be applied to tell a brand story and engage new audiences.
...how these tools can be applied to tell a brand story and engage new audiences.
Act 1: What Is The Metaverse?
We started this event by learning more about the metaverse, AR, VR and 360 video from two experts in the field and the owners of REM5; Amir Berenjian and Brian Skalak. They walked us through the actual technologies of the metaverse and XR (an umbrella term for AR and VR) and how they work within the contexts of Web3, blockchain and different access points (headsets, desktop, etc.) We then walked through how the metaverse is already reaching millions of users across various platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite, and how brands are already using these shared experiences as tools to extend their brands’ reach. Brian walked us through case studies from Starbucks, Toms, Nike, Oreo, Wendy’s, Top Golf and other brands that are effectively using VR, AR or 360 video to tell their brand story through advertising or an immersive experience that reinforces their core business model. One stat that stood out to us was that when AR and VR experiences are used in advertising, the dwell time on that experience is around 5 minutes and 42 seconds on average. That is a mind-blowing number when we think about the short attention spans of most internet users and the popularity of short-form video today. Getting someone to dwell on an ad for more than 5 seconds is often a triumph, so 5:42 is truly incredible in terms of ad impact. Once we’d filled our brains with a ton of knowledge on the subject at hand, we were ready to try out these technologies for ourselves.
Act 2: Hands-On Discovery
Hands-On Discovery was split into three stations: The Metaverse, VR/360 video, and AR.
In this station we got to explore how brands are already using the metaverse to expand their brand footprint and increase awareness through their own branded experiences. We wandered through the Oreoverse, Spotify Island and Walmart Land, which are all built in Roblox, as well as a virtual home built in the platform Simulacra (which is REM5’s signature platform). What was most interesting to us was how these brands were using games, prizes and shared experiences to expand upon their presence in the real world. For example, a cookies and cream stacking game in the Oreoverse awards you with coupons to use on Oreo products in real life.
...how these brands were using games, prizes and shared experiences to expand upon their presence in the real world.
“It’s incredible how much potential there is for brands to use these platforms, which already have millions of active users, to expand their messaging reach and create these really unique in-world experiences for consumers.”
- Amy, Senior Digital Strategist
This station had two parts; one where you could test out platforms like Horizon Workspace and Top Golf in VR, and another where you watched branded 360 videos. What stood out to us was the potential for VR to serve as an educational, entertaining and/or workplace experience via the countless apps and programs available on various headsets. As an agency with remote employees, the potential to meet with everyone in a 3D VR experience no matter their physical location was very intriguing, especially with what had been said about the 2D vs 3D experience for the human brain. The 360 videos were also interesting based on how each brand used the 360 video experience to tell their brand story; TOMS, a shoe company that became famous for their “buy a pair, give a pair” pledge, created a video where they immerse viewers in a trip to a small South American village where children are receiving TOMS shoes. The impact of being in the middle of the action and looking around to see different parts of the scene was much more significant than just watching a video on a smartphone.
VR to serve as an educational, entertaining and/or workplace experience...
“Our brains have a harder time picking up on details in a 2D environment as opposed to 3D environments, so the potential future of digital marketing in a 3D vs. 2D environment is fascinating to think about.” - KJ
- Kjerstin, Senior Account Manager
This was the station that we all had the most experience with in the “real world,” but it also presented some new and innovative brand use cases for AR. For example, Red Wing Shoes has been using both AR and AI to expand their brand experience, from AI-created shoe designs to viewing shoes in AR right from your device. We also got to try an AR headset that mapped your surroundings via a front-facing camera and projected AR elements onto it, so you could reach out and pick up/move something with your “real” hands in AR instead of having to use handheld controllers. We tried various AR phone filters that put us inside a Ferarri, let us try on Ray Ban sunglasses, and more. The applications of AR are everywhere and also present the most immediate opportunity for brands to create new touchpoints discovering products or a brand message.
“Freeing AR from the confines of a phone screen has so many possibilities for the interior design, event, and medical industries among many others. Imagine being able to design a space with life-size furniture and choose paint colors while physically standing in the room itself.”
- Amy, Senior Digital Strategist
Act 3: Discussion
After the hands-on portion, we were able to regroup and discuss what we’d seen and how these technologies could be used moving forward. Throughout the discussion, a common thread became the fact that, as of now, a brand’s exploration into these experiences should be focused less on ROI and more on building brand affinity. It’s very difficult to prove the exact ROI of an experience like the Oreoverse or an AR filter, but it could be majorly impactful for keeping a brand top of mind or in building that positive association with something a customer already enjoys.
A brand’s exploration into these experiences should be focused less on ROI and more on building brand affinity.
All of these technologies offer an exciting glimpse into the future of brand experiences and how we as advertising and marketing professionals will be helping those brands break new ground and explore the possibilities of the Metaverse/VR/AR. However, a cautious approach should still be taken as any experiences a brand may want to build need to be intentional, thoughtful, and have a strong use case as to why these technologies are the best possible way to achieve their goals. As for us at Folklore, we’re excited to see what the future holds and how each of these technologies will change how we interact with brands (and each other) for the better.